|Interview - Internet
Bad Religion drummer's own band debuts album
by Christopher Robinson
dailybruin.com, November 23, 2009
Brooks Wackerman, the current drummer for well-known influential Los Angeles punk band Bad Religion, seems to be taking a few cues from former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, picking up the guitar and fronting his own side-project, Kidneys. Like with Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, Wackerman expressed high hopes that this side dish would achieve enough popularity to be a delicious main dish in its own right.
Kidneys will be releasing its self-titled debut album today, with Wackerman following in the footsteps of other drummers who started new bands where they could pick up the guitar and compose their own songs, taking over the creative reigns of their own music.
“I started playing guitar in fifth grade, even though playing drums is my first love,” Wackerman said. “I’ve always had a batch of songs that I had written that I wanted to perform, but never had the balls to do it until now.”
With the desire to perform his own material and explore the arenas of songwriting, Wackerman eventually decided it was time to start his own band.
Bassist John Spiker, who has also played as part of Los Angeles-based rock band Tenacious D, expressed excitement for Kidneys and Wackerman’s vision for the band’s music.
“Brooks is a crazy personality,” Spiker said. “This band is an excuse for him to stretch the limits of what you’re used to seeing as just a standard rock show.”
Recalling the image of Grohl, another drummer-turned-rock-star, Spiker spoke on Wackerman’s transition from expressing himself through the drums to playing guitar.
“When he picks up the guitar, he plays it like a drummer,” Spiker said. “He does things on a guitar that a guitarist would never think of doing.”
This change seems to have been a natural one for Wackerman.
“I started Kidneys four years ago, wrote and tracked the entire record myself,” Wackerman said. “When I’m home from doing Bad Religion-related stuff, I concentrate on Kidneys.”
In between pounding the drums both on tour and in the recording studio with the famous punk band, fronted by Greg Graffin, who has taught Life Sciences 1 in the past here at UCLA, Wackerman worked tirelessly at writing and recording the album, building his songs from the bottom-up.
“I always start on an acoustic guitar and work on just writing a memorable guitar riff first,” Wackerman said. “Once I’ve got the riff, I orchestrate the drums around it and then focus on writing a catchy melody and lyrics.”
Wackerman is quick to point out that the songs on “Kidneys” should appeal fans and non-fans of Bad Religion alike, but discourages any direct comparisons to his other band because of the more personal nature of the songs on the album rather than the politically charged lyrical focus of many Bad Religion songs.
“If I had to choose, the best comparisons I can make with Kidneys and what influenced this album would be the Descendents and Elvis Costello,” Wackerman said.
“The music is a hybrid sound with both punk-flare and a focus on melody.”
Jackson Rodgers, a fourth-year philosophy student, has been a long-time fan of Bad Religion’s music and has heard a few of the tracks streaming on Kidneys’ Web site.
“I’m interested in seeing the direction Brooks takes both musically and lyrically,” Rodgers said. “The song ‘Christian Cheerleading’ reminds me of ‘Process of Belief’-era Bad Religion, while ‘Engine’ brings to mind The Strokes in their most classically pop-minded moments, and ‘Her’ sounds like its definitely dabbling in Beatles-esque pop territory.”
Following the album’s release today, Wackerman and the rest of Kidneys’ members are planning on touring the country – including a release party at the Viper Room on Dec. 8 – and getting right to work on recording a follow-up.
“I’ve already got a bunch of songs written for the next album,” Wackerman said. “And Bad Religion are slated to go into the studio and record our next album, hopefully released next year.”
The melodic punk-pop hybrid style that Bad Religion and Kidneys both operate within highlights the abilities of the songwriters to write catchy pop hooks while still leaving plenty of room for rocking out, invigorating the songs with high-energy guitar riffs and driving drums.
“What it all comes down to is a bunch of pop songs that rock really hard,” Spiker said. “At the core of every song is a simple pop song, but they’re all done with a really aggressive approach.”
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